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  • Thursday, April 28, 2022 8:45 AM | Michael Kelberer (Administrator)

    Click on the link below to view the April newsletter:

    Bending Bough April 2022.pdf

  • Friday, April 15, 2022 10:37 AM | Michael Kelberer (Administrator)

    Red Cedar Zen Community Annual Meeting 

    Coming up in 9 days on Sunday, April 24, 2022.

    When: Sunday April 24, 2022 at 10am.

    Where: We'll be meeting via our virtual zendo. (For directions, access information please visit our Zendo page).

    What: The formal agenda is as follows:

    10am: Open meeting

    • Zazen
    • Guiding Teacher's Comments
    • Remarks by Board President
    • Re-election of RCZC Board
      • All current members agree to continue to serve for another year
      • Welcome interest of others who wish to serve the sangha
    • Brief review of the past year of practice – Nomon Tim
      • Welcome new members
      • Membership Report – Hannah
      • Year-end budget report (including capital campaign results – John
      • Family Promise – Wayne
      • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access (DEIS) – Mari
        • Next steps??
    • Report from SCORE on finding a permanent home
      • Sangha discussion (breakout rooms) on how/if to re-calibrate our search criteria 
      • Report/feedback
    • Open floor discussion
    • Closing sit/chant
    Noon: End meeting

    More information and online registration please click here: http://www.redcedarzen.org/event-4768241
  • Wednesday, March 23, 2022 10:29 AM | Nomon Tim Burnett (Administrator)

    Starting on April 2nd, 2022, we’ll start hosting our weekly Saturday morning practice at Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship (BUF). This is a great weekly practice for a taste of formal Zen: two periods of zazen and the full morning service. And a great opportunity to engage with community as we often end up socializing a bit afterwards.

    Saturday morning continues to be available online via Zoom.

  • Friday, March 11, 2022 8:52 AM | Michael Kelberer (Administrator)

    Red Cedar Zen Community's Wilderness Dharma Program emphasizes the practice of mindfulness and compassion through intimacy with a sense of place. Through mindful awareness and ritual enactments on our seasonal hikes and journeys we confirm the wholeness of ourselves, our home here in Pacific Cascadia, and the intrinsic Buddha Nature of all things. We walk in peace with every step.

    Our schedule has a full slate of hikes and programs this year that offers something for almost everyone. From full backpacking trips to moderate day hikes, to our new short and easy Opening to Nature Walks in local parks, participants can engage with our travels in whichever format works for them. Red Cedar's Wilderness Dharma Program committee of Bob Penny, Bob Rose, Tim Burnett, Terrill Thompson, and Talus Latona each take turns leading the various programs. 

    Receiving Water Ceremony / Hills and Streams Hike

    To begin our season we warmly invite the community to join us Saturday, March 26th at Larrabee Beach for our Receiving Water/Hills and Streams hike program. This beachside ritual has become a poignant starting point for our season, and we hope you can attend. We carry the water we receive from the Salish Sea at this ritual with us throughout the season, exchanging it during our other hikes with mountain source water from the three headwaters of the Nooksack River, and return that mountain water to Larrabee Beach in the fall. In this way we follow what Eihei Dogen describes in his Mountains and Rivers Sutra as "the path of water" as our guide to practice being settled in this place. Each of us contributes to the whole season-long ritual by attending any part of it along the way, beginning with the Receiving Water ritual.

    The Hills and Streams hike which immediately follows is optional. Talus Latona will lead the hike, which features a landscape level recitation of Dogen's Genjo Koan, in a ritual we call "sutra mapping" - the Hills and Streams hike being a mini day hike version of our full Mountains and Rivers backpack ritual.

    A full description of the Wilderness Dharma Program can be found here.

    Registration

    The first two hikes for the season are ready for registration - the Receiving Water/ Hills and Streams hike, and next month's popular annual Mt. Eire Circumambulation hike led by Bob Rose. The other programs will come online for registration shortly, and announcements will also be in upcoming editions of Bending Bough, the Red Cedar Zen Community's monthly newsletter. A full list of the season's programs can be found below. Registration for all events is at redcedarzen.org

    We hope to see you at Larrabee Beach on March 26th to help with our beachside ritual of Receiving Water, or at another Wilderness Dharma Program event this season.

    In Wildness,
    Bob Penny
    Wilderness Dharma Program Coordinator
    Red Cedar Zen Community

    2022 Schedule

    March 26th  with Talus Latona and Bob Penny
                    Receiving Water Ceremony – Larrabee Park
                    Hills and Streams Hike/Genjo Koan – Lost Lake or Fragrance Lake

    April 9th (Buddha’s Birthday) with Bob Rose
                    Meeting the Mountain/Poet’s Tree Ritual – Mt. Erie Circumambulation

    May 7th   with Bob Penny
                    Opening to Nature Walk – Tennant Lake

    May 14th-15th with Bob Penny and Talus Latona 
                    Hidden Mountain Spring Retreat – Hidden Mountain Zendo

    June 4th  with Terrill Thompson
                    Opening to Nature Walk – Stimpson Forest Reserve

    July 2nd  with Tim Burnett
                    Opening to Nature Walk – 100 Acre Woods

    July 16th with Bob Penny
                    Opening the Mountains Hike/Dividing Water Ritual – Skyline Divide

    July 31st with Bob Penny
                    Sacred Earth Fair/sponsored by Multifaith Network for Climate Justice – Center for Spiritual Living

    August 6th with Bob Penny
                    Opening to Nature Walk - Old Growth Ceremony

    August 22st-27th with Bob Penny, Terrill Thompson, Tim Burnett, and Talus Latona
    Mountains and Rivers Backpack/Exchanging Water Rituals – Hidden Mountain Zendo/Mt. Baker

    September 3rdwith Bob Penny
                    Opening to Nature Walk – Cornwall Park

    September 10th with Terrill Thompson, Tim Burnett, and Bob Penny
                    Sauk Mountain Full Moonrise Hike

    September 24th (Fall Equinox) with Terrill Thompson
                    Journey to the Source/Exchanging Water Ritual – Nooksack Cirque

    October 1st with Bob Rose
                    Heart Sutra Walk – Heart Lake

    October 15th with Bob Penny
                    Closing the Mountains/Returning Water Ceremony – Oyster Dome/ Larrabee State Park

  • Wednesday, March 02, 2022 6:14 PM | Ryan Wenzel (Administrator)

    Responding Gate

    Words from our Guiding Teacher

    Dear Sangha,

    Like many of us, I've really appreciated our Shuso Seiu Hannah's leadership in exploring the Diamond Sutra this Practice Period. It was especially moving to read and share Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings around the sutra as he passed from this world after so many years of teaching and sharing this wisdom.  The odd repeated logic of prajna paramita emptiness teachings in the sutra do feel strange at first. "It exists, but it doesn't exist in the way you think it is does, and that's why we call it what it is." The sutra reminds us of the power of our minds to define and create the world. It reminds of the power of perspective. That all views are narrow and that a bigger more inclusive understanding is always right here. Right here. These teachings remind of us of the absolute necessity of radical flexibility, deep acceptance, and compassion. 

    But, this world. Glancing at the news just now: Russian tanks roll towards Kyiv, Ukraine; another dire climate change report coming out while, and meanwhile the Supreme Court is hearing a legal challenge that might undermine the EPA's ability to regulate the emissions that contribute to climate change. Yet again that Joni Mitchell line rolls through the mind, "I read the news today and it all looked bad, they won't give peace a chance, it was just an idea a few of us had." 

    And yet there is love; there is family; there is community. There is practice. There is this life with support of sangha. Every tiny shift towards more awareness, more clarity, and more kindness is significant. It helps me so much to remember that everyday throughout the world billions of people wake up, have breakfast with their families, go to work, take care of things, take care of each other, feel joy along with the sorrows, and are willing to keep going. That's this world too.

    This gift of practice we've received - a line from one of our chants: "now you have it so keep it well." And we keep it together. Thich Nhat Hanh reminding us again and again in his teachings of the importance of practicing together as sangha. 

    As the Omicron wave fades and living with Covid shifts again we're returning to in-person practice. I'm grateful for Zoom - it's really helped us stay connected and broadened the field of practice - and I'm looking forward to feeling again, in the body, the value of being together in space. We're starting modestly with weekly Thursday evening practice. Saturday morning to follow as we get our routine down at the Unitarian church. Some programs (weekday morning, Sunday Zen Alive) are staying just on Zoom.

    And I'm thrilled that we'll be able to return to Samish Island for our week-long sesshin with Norman in June. Many friends join us from near and far for this retreat, Samish has become a sangha of it's own over the years and I'd love for you to be a part of that. As you'll see we're opening registration first to Red Cedar members. It's likely to fill so please consider if you can come. 

    Another joy is this year's Wilderness Dharma program is in the works and will include more accessible close-by walks and gentle hikes along with the usual day hikes and the classic Mountains and Rivers backpack in August. 

    Lastly I want to add a thank you to all of our supporters as we seek our ultimate home. Thank you not only for the generous donations but also, now, for trusting the Board and our real estate advisors as we take the unexpected step of buying into the market initially with a building that we probably won't turn into a zendo. This took me a minute to get my mind around, but it makes sense. It should lead to a good outcome. And wow, also another opportunity to practice flexibility and letting go as plans, predictions, and ideas meet the rapidly changing world.

    Thank you for all of it. May we heal and grow together. And may our practice of awareness and compassion benefit this world.

    Nomon Tim


  • Tuesday, March 01, 2022 3:00 PM | Michael Kelberer (Administrator)

    Our in-person sesshin this week at Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship where they are not yet allowing meals has several impacts on our usual schedule and there are also special end of Practice Period events. It’s a little complicated!

    Here’s the run down:

    For the rest of March:

    • Monday - Thursday Mornings 7:00am zazen as usual staying only on Zoom.

    • Thursdays Evenings 7:00pm - weekly program with zazen, service, and Dharma Talk by Nomon Tim Burnett. BUF/Zoom hybrid. Join at BUF (arrive by 6:40) or on Zoom. Help wanted with doanryo jobs.

    • Saturday Mornings 7:00am - weekly Saturday morning sit with two periods of zazen and full morning service. Staying only on Zoom for now. Moving to BUF/Zoom hybrid in future.

    • Sunday Mornings 10am - weekly Zen Alive! program. Staying only on Zoom for the foreseeable future.

    Looking forward to practicing with you soon,
    Nomon Tim, Shudo Chris and your sangha practice leaders.

    p.s. Our Samish Island 7-day Sesshin with Norman Fischer is on (in person only) with registration opening to members on March 12 and the rest of our friends on March 19.

  • Friday, February 25, 2022 8:08 AM | Michael Kelberer (Administrator)

    Dear Sangha Friends,

    We want to thank you for your continued support throughout Our Journey Home Campaign and now into our Search for a New Home. This Journey is centered on our three treasures: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.  It has always been about how our Red Cedar Zen practice can serve our greater community. A building is a means to that end.  

    The process has not unfolded as we initially expected.  We set out with the intention that money raised would be sufficient to purchase a building that we could remodel and occupy. Unfortunately, during the past two years, the Bellingham real estate market has become, like many small cities, quite attractive. Numerous outside investors are making full price and above, cash offers for unseen properties. In these circumstances, our money simply won’t go as far as we had envisioned.  But as our teachings show, expectations should be held lightly and to embrace the opportunities that arise.

    In our search for a future zendo, we investigated multiple properties and found an ideal commercial building that meets most of our search criteria, 3 blocks from the Mt. Baker Theatre. It is in excellent condition, well outfitted, and used as healing arts treatment space. It is available to purchase and would be a prudent and wise investment in this challenging market.  

    However, to be a successful buyer, we must offer a multi-year lease to the current owner/tenant.  With a substantial down payment from our successful campaign, the monthly lease payments more than cover our projected mortgage.  Investing in this building now provides us with a safe place for our sangha treasure and allows that treasure to grow while providing great stability to respond to future opportunities.  

    This will be a temporary holding space so that we can calmly take the time to find our future home while building equity with the money all of you have so generously offered.  We can take deep breaths and not feel pressured or rushed. When we do find the proper home for Red Cedar sangha, we will be able to sell this building, if we choose, and purchase a new space that will fit our growing sangha's needs.

    We are still looking for our home and will continue that search.  There are many opportunities your Board of Directors’ Special Committee on Real Estate (SCORE) can see on the horizon. In the interim, we will meet at the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship (BUF) and be able practice, in person, as a community, sitting together after two years of almost constant virtual practice.    

    Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us in his commentary on the Diamond Sutra (p.68) that establishing a “serene and beautiful Buddha field” is done in the “spirit of formlessness.” His cautionary words ring true: “Do not allow yourself to be burnt out in the process of setting up a practice center.”

    We want to thank you all for your continued support and patience as we join together to take our practice from our cushions into our lives and into our community.  We deeply appreciate each and every one of you and your heartfelt generosity.  You are what makes Red Cedar Zen a living sanctuary.   

    We will have an all-sangha conversation about the next steps on our path for a permanent zendo home on Thursday, March 17 at 7 pm.  Please feel free to call me or other members of the SCORE committee (Mary Durbrow, Nomon Tim Burnett or Richard Eggemeyer) if you have questions, concerns, or other issues we should consider.  

    Deep Bows.

    On behalf of the SCORE Committee

    Bob Rose, Board President 

  • Wednesday, February 23, 2022 9:49 AM | Michael Kelberer (Administrator)

    We are slowing opening our practices and events to in-person attendance. See the Home Page for current information.

    When attending practices and events in our sangha space at the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship (BUF), please adhere to the following safety protocols to help keep our members safe during the Covid pandemic.

    Before arriving at BUF:

    • Please send a photo of your vaccination card showing a completed vaccine series and one booster to registrar@redcedarzen.org.

    • Please stay home if you have any Covid symptoms, even if a home test is negative. 

    • Please stay home if you have tested positive for Covid and refer to CDC Guidelines https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/quarantine-isolation.html   

    • Please stay home if you have a known CoVid exposure and refer to CDC Guidelines  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/quarantine-isolation.html.

    • Please stay home if you have not completed a vaccine series, including one booster.

    On arrival at BUF:

    • Mask up before you enter the building.

    • Sign in with the registrar and show the vaccination record if you have not already sent her a photo of your vax record.

    • Proceed to the hand-washing station.

    • N 94 or N 95 (not cloth!) masks are required and there will be a small supply at the door.  

    When in the  Zendo:

    • Maintain social distancing of 6 feet when sitting, walking, in restrooms, on stairways and anywhere we tend to cluster. 

    • Wear masks continually during service.

    • Chanting while masked is acceptable.

    After the event:

    • Wipe down chairs and other hard surfaces.

    • Congregate outdoors for socializing. 

    If you develop a positive Covid test within days after the event:

    • Please let the registrar know at registrar@redcedarzen.org.

    • Using the registrar’s check-in list, we will follow best practices to notify individuals who may have been exposed. You will remain anonymous.

    • If you have been exposed please refer to the CDC website:   

    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/quarantine-isolation.html.
  • Monday, February 07, 2022 8:26 PM | Ryan Wenzel (Administrator)

    Update from the SCORE Committee

    Dear Sangha,

    Your generous practice of dana paramita has given RCZC's search for a practice home a breath of life.  We will be able to make a down payment exceeding $500,000 when a suitable property is found.   Your SCORE committee (Bob Rose, Richard Eggemeyer, Nomon Tim, and Mary Durbrow) with Bob Penny's help with construction and design feasibility continues to browse the commercial and residential listings daily and physically visit anything that meets our criteria of:

    • 2000-3000 ft sq
    • Bellingham city limits, preferably downtown core
    • Accessible by multiple modes of transportation
    • ADA accessible
    • Walking distance to amenities like coffee shop and greenspace
    • Manageable mortgage for sangha now and in the future

    To date we have toured ten properties - none so far has been suitable.  Our exploration has revealed that this is a fast-growing real estate market, and according to a real estate broker we are working with, we are competing with buyers from all over the world who are making cash offers on residential and commercial properties, sometimes sight unseen.  The Bellingham market feels very expensive to us locals, but investors from other cities see Bellingham as a bargain. 

    We are ready to take the leap off the 100-foot pole if the right property presents itself, thanks to funds that are now available and which will make a handsome down payment.  We are meeting with lending institutions this week to prequalify for a loan, a step that will help us move more quickly when the time comes to present an offer.  

    As no suitable property has presented itself in the past year, we are beginning to consider another alternative such as investing the sangha treasure in an interim property with a positive rental income stream, whose value will grow with the market, and whose positive income stream will make the mortgage payments for us.  If we find a desirable property that meets these new criteria, we could remodel and move in in two years, or resell.  Meanwhile, we will meet at BUF, as planned, and as Congregation Beth Israel did, while their new synagogue was being built.  Our initial investment will have grown at the current real estate growth rate of 15%, far beyond what it would earn in a money market or savings account.  Not investing the money we have, whether in a permanent or interim property, will leave us farther behind as the market continues to grow. 

    This requires great patience paramita practice on all our parts, dear sangha.  It seems fair to say that whatever we do, it could be two years or more before we settle into our new home.  Even if we found the perfect property tomorrow, we will need to go through a conditional use permitting process, design and permitting for a remodel, then the actual remodel.  That alone can take two years. 

    We are so fortunate that BUF has welcomed us to their beautiful practice hall for as long as we need to be there, at a very fair price.   Let's all take a couple of deep breaths, one in gratitude for BUF and the sangha's generosity and another to help us practice patience with so much uncertainty.   

    Your SCORE team will continue to work relentlessly until our beloved sangha is settled together once again.  

    With Gratitude,

    Mary Durbrow

    On behalf of the SCORE team



    Buddhist Folk Painting, Free to a Good Home

    Dear Red Cedar Zen Community Folks,

    Happy New Year of the Water Tiger!

    Two years after moving into a new (for us) home in Bellingham, my wife and I have decided that we do not have a suitable spot to hang a large Korean folk painting which we brought home with us after living several decades in Seoul.  Measuring 51" wide and 41" high, the painting features an array of prominent Buddhist, Confucian and other personages from various Asian spiritual traditions.  It was acquired by a fellow former Peace Corps volunteer in Korea in the 1970s, and handed down to us.

    Our Asian art connection cannot accept it, and we do not want to cast the fate of this special work to the fickle winds of E-Bay or Craig's List.  We wonder, however, whether Red Cedar, or anyone associated with your Center, might have an interest in, or a place for, this painting.  We would be delighted just to know that it has found an appreciative new home.

    Thank you for considering, and best wishes for a healthy, happy, and safe 2022!

    Ken Kaliher and Mary-Lee Mooney

    430 S. Garden St., Bellingham, WA 98225-6117

    (360) 734-2096


    If a problem can be solved, why be unhappy?

    And if it cannot be solved, what is the use of being unhappy?

     - The Abbott, in Khyentse Norbu’s 1999 film, "The Cup"



    Board Forms New Financial Future Committee

    As you all know, we are entering into new financial territory and some uncertainty as we prepare to purchase a future home for the sangha.  Our finances have remained quite stable and predictable for a very long time.  Right now we have a robust financial position.  But as the Board of Directors bears fiduciary responsibility for RCZC we need to assure we keep it as such.   

    So, we are inviting 2-3 sangha members to look into the future with a couple of board members (John and Mary for now).  Some data we might look at would be: How is the gain/loss of members trending?   How do our membership dues and registration fees compare with other sangha's our size?  What new income streams can we imagine, given our limited human resources?  How can we keep our fees low and be financially sustainable in the future?   What grants are out there that might be a good fit?  What ideas do YOU have?     

    This will be an ad hoc committee, hopefully winding up with a report with recommendations to the Board in a few months, maybe in time for the Annual meeting with Board and Sangha in April.    

    If this sounds interesting to you, please contact Mary (mdurbrow1@gmail.com) or John (Johnmw47@gmail.com).

    Deep bows,

    John and Mary    

  • Sunday, December 05, 2021 6:04 PM | Ryan Wenzel (Administrator)

    November Sangha Conversation

    In November we shifted our monthly conversation away from the theoretical, and discussed a local effort Red Cedar is currently involved in – the Multifaith Network for Climate Justice (MNCJ). Julie Johnson, Outreach person for the MNCJ, and Red Cedar’s representative to the MNCJ Reizan Bob Penny presented the current activities of this recently formed group. A lively conversation was had exploring how our practice can inform MNCJ’s efforts of “spiritual activism” to protect this planet and all beings. 

    Members with access to Ananda, our online document repository, can read the full meeting notes there. To request access, please email tech@redcedarzen.org


    New Program Administrator Position Offered

    The RCZC Program Administrator (PA) will provide essential administrative support for the smooth running of Red Cedar events.  The Program Administrator will work closely with volunteer Registrars, Retreat Managers, and Inos, and will take direction from the Guiding Teacher.

    Red Cedar Zen Community is an equal opportunity employer.  We consider applicants for all positions, without regard to race, color, sex, age, national origin, ancestry, differential abilities, political affiliation, marital status, sexual orientation, or any other legally protected status.   

    Responsibilities will include:

    1. Adding events to the website on request, this includes setting up registration types, levels, and deadlines as needed for each event.

    2. Proofread submitted event descriptions and provide feedback about readability, inconsistencies or errors

    3. Verify through active testing that new events and registration options are working smoothly for registrants

    4. Manage ZOOM or facility availability, scheduling, and resolve scheduling conflicts

    5. Manage master program calendars online  and resolve scheduling conflicts

    6. Assure that online program offerings are consistent in language, format, and accuracy.  

    7. Use events system to produce flyers and other simple promotional materials

    8. Working with our bookkeeper to insure event registration payments are made and refunds processed, closing out invoices and resolving any payment issues in Wild Apricot.

    9. Assisting the Guiding Teacher and with other program and website related tasks on request.

    A successful candidate must:

    • Have strong technology skills and be comfortable learning new software systems  such as our event management system (Wild Apricot)

    • Have excellent organizational, communication, and writing skills

    • Have proficiency with Google Drive (Docs, Sheets, Forms, etc)

    • Have basic web design skills including some knowledge of html and css

    • Be able to work independently and also discern when to ask for guidance, input, or help.

    Desirable additional skills and knowledge:

    • Familiarity with Red Cedar Zen programs and Board and Sangha policies

    • Prior experience with event management.

    Work Schedule and Salary Details: 

    Hours: Maximum of 22 hours/month (need will vary from week to week) and may be  flexed as needed within a two week period.    There is no assurance at this time that this position will be expanded 

    Pay rate:   $25 / hour

    This is a non-benefited position. 

    How to apply:   

    Please email your cover letter and resume to tim@redcedarzen.org


    Responding Gate

    Words From Our Guiding Teacher

    “…After you have practiced for a while, you will realize that it is not possible to make rapid, extraordinary progress. Even though you try very hard, the progress you make is always little by little…” 

    - Shunryu Suzuki Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

    Dear Sangha, 

    Several sangha members have told me they really appreciated a recent talk I gave based on an essay by Norman Fischer called Stages of Monastic Life and this got me thinking about what we're trying to do here at Red Cedar and with Zen practice in this midst of our busy modern lives.

    There's a lot to our practice that's practical and makes sense. It does help us stay on the beam. Sitting down for zazen in particular can be such a valuable pause in the action. And even if we're in a period of life that isn't as externally busy there's always a lot of action in the mind. What a blessing to have received a way to stop for a time and just be. Even your mind happens to be racing around during a given zazen period, there's something magical to that time of pause. Something healing....

    There's a lot to our practice that's practical and makes sense. It does help us stay on the beam. Sitting down for zazen in particular can be such a valuable pause in the action. And even if we're in a period of life that isn't as externally busy there's always a lot of action in the mind. What a blessing to have received a way to stop for a time and just be. Even your mind happens to be racing around during a given zazen period, there's something magical to that time of pause. Something healing. 

    And practice in sangha pulls us together with others. With community. With others who are also seeking something. In some ways they are like-minded others, but we're also an eclectic crew aren't we? Isn't there a movie or TV show that opens with the narrator talking about the protagonists as a "rag-tag band of adventurers"? We humans do have a deep need to connect with others! Wonderful, inspiring, and, yes, at times a bit challenging. But there's something to a life of practice that doesn't make sense in a way you can put your finger on, too. And being in the middle of it all, it's hard to feel into what this is. But there's something else about a life of practice, something that's deep in the core of our being, something vital, something deeply essential in a human life, that we're nurturing and living into through our practice. 

    Take a moment now to pause if you would. Feel into your gut. Into your heart. Breathe gently but deeply. What do you feel? What do you notice? Of course we have all of these Zen stories and Buddhist texts that talk about awakening, enlightenment, realization. Being stories they are often dramatic. And sometimes people do experience big shifts and changes that seem to arise from practice. But actually I think the vast majority of us don't have dramatic spiritual experiences. For most of us it's more like Suzuki Roshi's famous metaphor of walking through the fog.

    "After you have practiced for a while, you will realize that it is not possible to make rapid, extraordinary progress. Even though you try very hard, the progress you make is always little by little. It is not like going out in a shower in which you know when you get wet. In a fog, you do not know you are getting wet, but as you keep walking you get wet little by little.

    If your mind has ideas of progress, you may say, “Oh, this pace is terrible!” But actually it is not. When you get wet in a fog it is very difficult to dry yourself. So there is no need to worry about progress." 

    - Shunryu Suzuki Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

    And as the practice gradually seeps in to our bones, we don't stop being ourselves. In some ways we settle more fully into ourselves - Suzuki Roshi also said, "When you are you, Zen is Zen." I'll always be some version of me and you'll always be some version of you. And we'll always be human with our joys and confusions. 

    Lately I've actually been agitated and lost in my own confusion more than usual! But when one of those waves of consternation drops me on the beach again and recedes, I think the difference that practice makes is it's more natural to get up again. To stand and breathe and appreciate the return of clarity and ease. And little by little I have more confidence that everything works out just as it is. In these busy times for many of us in sangha life - fundraising, sorting out temporary zendos, adjusting and changing as we go - and not to mention the confusing and rapidly changing times we're all living in - I want to keep encouraging myself, and all of us, to keep turning back towards this subtle core of our life. A life of practice. 

    Thank you for supporting my life of practice. I know I'm far from perfect but I'll keep doing my best to support your life of practice, too. We support each other. We do this each in our own way and we do this together. 


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